Yunnan nuthatch (Sitta yunnanensis)

GenusSitta (1)
SizeLength: 12 cm (2)

The Yunnan nuthatch is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The Yunnan nuthatch belongs to the bird family Sittidae, a name which originates from a Greek word that is used to describe birds that peck at the bark of trees (3). It is a bluey-grey bird, with a distinctive broad black stripe extending from the bill, through the eye and down the sides of the neck. The sides of the face and throat are white, and the underparts are a pinkish-buff. Juveniles can be distinguished by their less bold eye stripe. It has a black bill, grey feet and a brown iris. The Yunnan nuthatch is a fairly vocal bird that can be heard making various nasal calls including a high pitched tit and a schri-schri-schri (2).

The Yunnan nuthatch occurs only in south-west China; in south-east Tibet, southern Sichuan, northern Yunnan and western Guizhou (4).

The Yunnan nuthatch inhabits open mature pine forest, with little undergrowth. It can generally be found at elevations between 2,400 and 3,400 meters in summer, and as low as 1,200 meters in winter (2) (4).

The family of birds to which the Yunnan nuthatch belongs spend their whole life in trees and inch up and down trunks and branches with great dexterity, using their strong claws (5). They forage on trees by clinging to the bark with one foot held above the body (2). They were given the name nuthatch from their habit of wedging nuts, insects and other food into crevices in the tree, and hacking them open with their long, sturdy bill (3). Nuthatches nest in holes in trees or rocks, and lay between four and ten eggs (5).

The Yunnan nuthatch has disappeared from several areas in which it was recorded to exist in the early 20th century. It is thought that populations may still be declining as a result of logging and forest fires (4).

There are no specific conservation measures known to be in place at present for this species. Within the Yunnan mountain region in which it occurs there are a number of protected areas, however, it is not clear whether the Yunnan nuthatch actually occurs within these reserves (6).

For further information on the Yunnan nuthatch see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2007)
  2. Mackinnon, J. and Phillipps, K. (2000) A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. The Nutty Birdwatcher (May, 2007)
  4. Birdlife International (May, 2007)
  5. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  6. Birdlife International (May, 2007)